Navy Yard Kicks Off Bus Electrification and Campus-Wide EV Study

by Navy Yard
November 16, 2023

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In July 2023, PIDC released a public RFP to select an experienced team to conduct a Bus Electrification and Campus-Wide EV Study and develop an implementation plan at the Navy Yard. We are happy to announce that we selected Virginkar & Associates, Inc. (VAI) consultant team to conduct a study on improving the Navy Yard’s transit system and promoting sustainability.  The VAI team also consists of Urban Engineers, Inc., H&J International, and McKnees, Wallace, and Nurick, LLC.

“As a growing business campus, sustainable, high-quality transit and connectivity is critical to ensuring equitable access for the Navy Yard’s 15,000 employees, tens of thousands of annual visitors, and future residents,” said Kate McNamara, PIDC’s Senior Vice President at the Navy Yard. “This study is a testament of our commitment to sustainable operations.”

About the Navy Yard Plan and the EV Study

Building upon the 20 years of economic development success coupled with the recent ability to develop residential in key areas of the site, the Navy Yard presents an opportunity to think big. With over 8.9 million square feet of new building and adaptive reuse, nearly 1 million square feet of improved public realm, and approximately $5.9 billion of investment anticipated over the course of the next 20 years, the 2022 Navy Yard Plan Update envisions the Navy Yard as the best of what a mixed-use campus can be. The new multifamily residential development will be the first of its kind at the Navy Yard since PAID acquired the site in 2000, transforming the campus from a 9-to-5 business campus to a 24/7 site.

With this new density and mixed-used development, it will be critical for the Navy Yard to improve transit access and reliability to meet new demand and limit the use of single-occupancy vehicles. The study’s aim is to examine the efficacy of the Navy Yard’s current transit system, project system growth as new development (especially residential) comes online and recommend an implementation plan to phase out diesel fuel buses in a financially feasible way.

A Navy Yard shuttle bus.

Phase 1 of the study focuses on the Navy Yard Transit system and will assess the existing bus network including the Navy Yard’s Autonomous Vehicle (AV) shuttle, develop a phased approach for fleet conversion, assess financing options, and culminate in an implementation plan. Phase 2 of the Project will develop a plan for a campus-wide EV strategy.

The study’s overarching goal is increasing transit access through a lens of sustainability by transitioning the current diesel fleet to electric. Secondarily, the study will also examine the existing conditions of EV infrastructure at the Navy Yard and recommend a strategy for its expansion. The Navy Yard is uniquely positioned to increase EV infrastructure for passenger vehicles due to its parking amenities (e.g., NovaCare lot, free street parking, and adding nearly 13,000 spaces per the 2022 Master Plan Update), access to interstate highways (e.g., I-95 and I-76), and operating a private electric utility grid.

EV adoption has grown rapidly in recent years, and its growth is expected to continue and even accelerate. S&P Global Mobility forecasts electric vehicle sales in the United States could reach 40 percent of total passenger car sales by 2030. Investing in EV infrastructure now could save thousands of dollars from retrofitting in the future.

The Navy Yard Bus Electrification & Campus-Wide EV Study aligns with the “sustainability and resilience” lens of PIDC’s strategic framework, and the “innovative & resilient” and “connected & multimodal” guiding principles of the 2022 Navy Yard Master Plan update.

About the Virginkar & Associates, Inc. Team (VAI Team)

Virginkar & Associates, Inc. (VAI) is a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) management and technical consulting firm in the bus & rail transit industry. Founded in 1991, with 60+ full-time and part-time employees, VAI has offices in California and Philadelphia. VAI provides services for urban transportation, transit, and ITS projects in the following business portfolios – Bus & Rail rolling stock, Systems, Civil & Infrastructure, and U.S. DOT Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Project Management Oversight (PMO). An established and experienced staff leads and participates in a variety of tasks that include Studies, Design Development, Bus Technology, Zero Emission Implementation Plans, Charging Systems & Technology, Facility Assessment, Fleet Management, and Transit Planning, to name a few.

VAI and subconsultant team members present a collection of expertise that is the ‘Right Size’ for the Navy Yard study. The VAI Team will bring a ‘hands on’ approach with personalized service. As self-proclaimed “transportation people,” this type of project is what they do every day. The Team is diverse, heavily experienced, and problem solvers. This is evidenced by having key subconsultant Urban Engineers on the Team, who is involved on the Quay Wall Reconstruction Project. All four firms have offices in Philadelphia.

About the Navy Yard Transit System

In 2012, PIDC identified the need to supplement limited transit options to the Navy Yard and responded by launching the Navy Yard transit shuttle. This service aims to create a viable transit option for campus employees and visitors by connecting them with SEPTA’s Broad Street Line subway, regional rail, and other SEPTA and PACTO transit routes. PIDC currently operates two Navy Yard transit shuttles – an “express route” to Center City and a “loop route” to NRG station, the southernmost stop on the Broad Street subway line.

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